Hacking STEM-ed

The digital divide is important. I’ve written and spoken about the widening chasm that exists between the digital haves and have-nots before and its been covered ad-nauseum. As of late, the accepted solution appears to be STEM education. For those of you who still don’t know what this ever-present acronym refers to, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  This, it seems, is the much-trumped panacea for all that ails people of color and women who aren't well represented in tech.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully understand and appreciate that STEM is necessary and that if we had more of “us” with a clear understanding of these precepts that we would be able to produce mini Marc  Zuckerbergs.

I get it: We’re consuming, we’re not creating.

In Silicon Valley there is a hackathon happening place almost every weekend.  I decided to visit a few.
Fact: When I say the word hackathon to people outside of the tech they say it sounds illegal.

I assure them that its not and go on to explain that hackathons are where people come together to use technology to solve problems. The “problem” as it were is pretty much whatever the theme of the hackathon happens to be. I’ve been to hackathons about food, meat, women, mobile – you name it.

The format is simple. People of all disciplines gather; some have ideas, others are engineers, designers, writers, others still, are copywriters. They form teams and create something. Simple, right? Yeah, I think so too.  This is how the real world works. Having gotten my start in technology as a project manager, I know all too well that a great developer is an asset. And a great developer can make a great product work well, but he or she can’t make it look good. We’re hard-wired to be attracted to things that look good. And you need a designer for that. You also need great copy, and user experience and when you put all those great people together, you need someone to tell them what to do and when as well as manage the budget. These are the facts.

So, why aren’t all STEM education classes built around this concept of collaborative learning and working?

Beats me.

I'll tell more about how I intend to hack STEM-ed in my next post.